Magazine article Information Today

Supreme Court Issues Ruling in Workplace Privacy Case

Magazine article Information Today

Supreme Court Issues Ruling in Workplace Privacy Case

Article excerpt

Workplace privacy experts and advocates took note of a recent Supreme Court decision that dealt with employee privacy on work-issued mobile devices. In the case of City of Ontario v. Quon, a police officer in Ontario, Calif., sued the city police department for accessing personal text messages that he sent via a work-issued pager. A review, which was conducted as part of an investigation into the cost of pager usage by members of the department, resulted in disciplinary action against the officer since many of his messages were found to be sexually explicit. According to the officer, the city violated his Fourth Amendment rights by reviewing the messages.

The case proved to be more complex because the police department adopted a policy that allowed officers to prevent reviews of their messages by simply reimbursing the department for the costs of any messages over a certain limit.

Despite the officer's arguments, the Supreme Court ruled that the police chief was within his rights to review the officer's messages because of the department's privacy policy. Although the policy did not specifically address the issue of text messages, the court found that the department clearly stated that employees had limited privacy when it came to communicating using the department's devices. …

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